Digital Media Licensors relate pain caused by COVID-19

April 7, 2020


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered normal business, more than 30 members of the Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) shared the effects the crisis is having on the visual media industry.

The digital media licensors connected in a members-only webinar moderated by Thomas Smith (Gado Images), chairman of the 2020 DMLA Education and Programs Committee. Participants candidly shared their perspectives on the challenges content creators are facing and what the crisis may portend for the industry.

In a frank, unrecorded conversation, participants shared insights into the pain fellow creatives are suffering:

  • Available content often is dictated by what photographers are able to shoot, which right now is not much. Agencies are adapting, determining what kinds of useful content photographers can produce while confined to their homes or working under travel restrictions.
  • Many of the licensors’ contributing photographers are seriously hurting. Most event work has been canceled, as have most major sporting events, political gatherings, and entertainment. Photographers are focused on their immediate financial and family needs.
  • Contributors may not always be comfortable sharing their difficulties candidly with their agencies, so it is a reality licensors might need to anticipate or address in advance. Business insurance is one avenue to explore. All participants emphasized the safety of their contributors and staff as their No. 1 priority.
  • Shifts in photographer availability may impact existing industry trends (like the move towards free content), but overall it is too early to tell. Budget pressures may also push companies towards choosing different content types and licensing models going forward.
  • Conversely, the crisis may push content producers–who are often short staffed and responding quickly themselves – to rely more heavily on their existing agency connections, to source vetted, high-quality both creative and editorial content quickly. Creatives may need to adopt a more editorial focus in the short term.
  • There has been an increase in infringement searches from photographers looking for new income streams. But some in the industry have paused the processing of infringement claims, to help others outside the industry.

DMLA is ready to serve its members in these challenging times, through discussions of best practices, guidance on emerging issues, and opportunities to connect as an industry.

Please reach out to Education and Programs Chair Tom Smith ( or Executive Director Elaine Vitt ( with feedback or questions about what DMLA can do for your company as we work to navigate the COVID-19 crisis together.